Everything You Need to Know About the Weekend in Boxing

By James Kinneen Jul 23, 2018

After a 12-round decision win against Murat Gassiev, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk is the third undisputed cruiserweight champion in history, joining Evander Holyfield and O’Neil Bell as the only men to ever hold that distinction. But, he might become so much more.

The Usyk-Gassiev fight was supposed to be an all time classic, with many gambling websites declaring the contest “too close to call.” Instead, the night turned into a showcase for Usyk’s footwork and boxing skills as he outclassed Gassiev to a 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 unanimous decision. Rather than being disappointed that the fight didn’t live up to the hype, fans and journalists instead showered Usyk with praise. Lee Wylie called his stamina “otherworldy,” compared him to Lomachenko and declared “the man is the total package.” ESPN devoted an entire article to how much of a danger Usyk is to current heavyweight champions like Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

But, how long these great heavyweight champions will have to wait for Usyk is unclear. All signs point to Usyk’s next fight being against former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew, who now campaigns at heavyweight and stopped David Haye twice in his last two fights. A win over Bellew, who played the villain in “Creed” would go a long way towards proving Usyk could be a serious threat to the great heavyweights of the world, as well as getting a fighter many journalists consider one of the top 10 pound-for-pound best in the world enough fans to get this potentially all-time great pugilist off of a site like KlowdTV.

Another up-and-comer who scored a big win this weekend was Mexico’s Jaime Munguia, who won a dominant unanimous decision over Liam “Beefy" Smith Saturday night on HBO. Munguia is only 21 years-old and has already won and defended his WBO junior middleweight title. However, because so much is expected from him, after a dominant victory Munguia once again faced significant criticism and doubt.

Throughout the fight Munguia was countered with clean right hands from Smith that snuck inside of Munguia’s looping power shots. For the most part Munguia walked through them, as Smith did not have the power to slow him down, but HBO’s commentators (who had earlier suggested Munguia facing Canelo Alvarez was a legitimate prospect in the near future) felt the need to point out that if a more powerful fighter was peppering Munguia with these shots, the fight would be radically different. Although Munguia knocked down Smith in the sixth round, Smith still felt the need to point out that Canelo Alvarez hit harder than Munguia. Even Munguia’s weight was criticized, as he rehydrated from 154 to 176 before the fight leading various twitter users to denounce his abilities and argue that he is simply bigger than everyone else (this despite Smith rehydrating to 172) and Lou Dibella to argue there is something wrong with this practice. Interestingly, he thinks boxing having too many weight classes is partially to blame, an odd argument when mixed martial arts pundits frequently argue the exact opposite.

Either way, Munguia is young, insanely exciting and hits very hard. Maybe we should stop nitpicking him and projecting his future statuses, and just enjoy watching him fight.

On the Munguia undercard, Alberto Machado cruised to a unanimous decision victory, dropping but failing to stop Ghana’s Rafael Mensah. Machado was too big, too strong and too good for Mensah, who lost his daughter to malaria only a month before the fight. HBO’s Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. discussed when the incredibly one-sided bout should be stopped starting around the sixth round, while Jim Lampley spent most of the latter stages of the fight awkwardly plugging the merits of the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas after he complained about the loud music keeping him up all night in his hotel room earlier on. Although Mensah should be applauded for his heart in making it to the final bell, this largely forgettable fight did not do much for Machado’s resume or Mensah’s health.

Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus dominated a boring fight, winning a decision over Russia’s Inna Sagaydakovskya to win the women’s welterweight title, after dropping a weight class to face Sagaydakovskya. Braekhus is now 34-0, with 24 of those wins coming in world title fights as she also holds an interim junior middleweight title.

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai knocked out Young Gil Bae so quickly, that the entire fight can be viewed on a tweet. Rungvisai is undeniably a great fighter, but this fight was largely a waste of time. Rungvisai’s title was not on the line (the fight was at 120 not 115), Bae never had a real chance, and the fight was so poorly promoted in the United States that few knew it was even happening. Rungvisai declined to appear on HBO’s “Superfly 3” card and will instead defend his WBC title in Pak Kret Thailand at some point in the future. Let’s hope that fight is better matched, better promoted, and overall better than this one was.

Philadelphia’s Jaron “Boots” Ennis wore this into the ring on Friday. He also embarrassed his undefeated opponent, Armando Alvarez, dropped him four times and stopped him in the third round to move his record to 21-0 with 19 knockouts. Ennis showboated, refused to touch gloves and so thoroughly dominated Alvarez on the biggest stage (the main event of a Showtime card) that there is no question this young man is a force in an already stacked welterweight division. The only question is, why did a fighter from the city that produced brutally hard men like Bernard Hopkins, Joe Frazier and "Bad" Bennie Briscoe possibly wear that?

Lamont Roach Jr. stopped Deivi Julio Bassa in the seventh round of the Golden Boy Boxing card on Friday night, when Bassa’s corner stopped the fight with Bassa on the stool at the beginning of the seventh round. Roach moved to 17-0-1 with seven knockouts, with his lone blemish being a draw with Orlando Cruz.

Curtis Stevens, best known for the face he made after getting dropped by GGG, bounced back from his vicious knockout loss to David Lemieux with a fourth round TKO victory over Dominican boxer Carlos Jairo Cruz in Cruz’s hometown. Unfortunately, after Stevens’ victory the Dominican crowd jumped into the ring, threw chairs and bottles, and shots rang out until numerous police cars showed up to end the mayhem. Both boxers were OK, thankfully.

And finally, Jean Pascal landed a series of left hooks until one finally landed on the button and put down former hockey enforcer turned MMA fighter Steve Bosse. Although Bosse beat the count, the referee ended the bout anyway moving Bosse’s record to 1-1, and Pascal to cancel his retirement. Pascal dominated, but reportedly got his jaw broken at some point during the fight while Bosse, who was dropped in round three as well, reportedly tore a bicep during training. This fight was a one-sided matchup from the beginning, but Pascal’s insistence on showboating and opting not to put on the pressure to end the fight really made the contest stupid. Let’s not do something like this again.


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